first_imgBy Sharon OmahenUniversity of GeorgiaMushrooms are cropping up everywhere as a result of last month’srainfall. Many look just like the ones you buy in the grocerystore. But University of Georgia experts warn that they may notbe safe to eat.In fact, chlorophyllum, a mushroom commonly seen in yards and ongolf courses, looks very similar to some edible mushrooms, saidCharles Mims, a plant pathologist with the UGA College ofAgricultural and Environmental Sciences. But chlorophyllum is highly toxic and causes severe upsetstomach.”It’s one that will definitely make you sick to the point thatyou might even wish you were dead,” Mims said.To be safe, people should not eatwild mushrooms unless they areskilled in mushroom identification.”I would never suggest anyone go out and randomly collect wildmushrooms to eat,” Mims said. “You have to know what you’repicking.”Optimum conditionsConditions are ideal for mushrooms to reproduce right now. “They pop up when the environmental conditions are right and thisis usually triggered by moisture or temperature,” Mims said. Thisis why certain species are only seen in the fall of the year andothers only in the spring.”The drought conditions we’ve experienced over the past fewmonths have kept us from seeing [many] mushrooms, but the body ofthe mushroom, known as the mycelium is present year-round in thesoil.”Mycelium grows unseen usually alongside tree roots before formingmushrooms.Fungus among usMushrooms belong to the group of organisms known as fungi whichincludes the molds and mildews found on our foods and in ourhomes.”Pathogenic forms cause diseases in plants and animals includinghumans,” Mims said. The yeast we use for baking bread andproducing alcohol are also fungi.”According to Mims, other types of yeast may cause infection inhumans. Ringworm is another type of fungus infection that isharmful to humans.The domestic mushrooms we now find in grocery stores andrestaurant dishes were once wild mushrooms, he said. “Agaricus, the mushroom commonly found on pizzas, came fromnature back in 1760s in France,” he said. “Shiitake mushroomswere first domesticated in China in 500 A.D.”Call of the wild [mushroom]Mims says some cultures in Europe and Southeast Asia commonlycollect and eat wild mushrooms, but he doesn’t recommend amateursdo the same.”Collecting mushrooms is a big part of these cultures and it’s askill that is taught from one generation to the next,” he said. Mims recommends buying a good mushroom identification book orjoining a mushroom club to learn which ones are edible.”There are a number of excellent books available on mushrooms,”Mims said. “And there are a lot of people out there who docollect and eat wild mushrooms. There’s a group in Athens thattakes mushrooms walks and then meets to identify the samples theycollect.”If you do harvest wild mushrooms, Mims suggests that you firsthave them identified by someone who knows about edible andpoisonous species and that you consume only a very small portionthe first time you eat a new find. “There are a lot of wild mushrooms that are good to eat,” hesaid. “And there are some that will kill you. The most poisonousmushrooms in the world belong to the genus amanita. Their poisoncan destroy your liver and there is no good treatment available.”If you don’t want to risk getting a stomachache, Mims suggestsdining out.”You can always play it safe and go to a restaurant that serveswild mushrooms,” he said. “Then you get the experience withoutthe risk.”last_img

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